Monday, November 15, 2010

Defeat Beside Gain, and Me Walking Beside My Beloved

Along the new trail—the one that we get to by skirting the official park entrance, via the the water company road—there’s a downed tree. Actually, it’s a half-downed tree. Though no longer alive, one part touches the forest floor and the other rests in the open arms of a healthy, upright tree. The metaphor is startling.

Lucky me: Michael is both ever the realist and ever the romantic. Looking at the base of the tree, where termites have set up house and gotten right to work, right to dinner, he says, “Defeat and tragedy for one is fair gain for another.” He voice is as balanced as his statement, and he doesn’t say this as a defeatist, but as a realist. The romantic part of him isn’t showing just then. That he saves for later.

When I die, I hope termites don’t move in to dine upon my bones. I hope someone will love and wear my grandmother’s pearl earrings as much as I have and the ruby Michael slipped on my finger the day he took me as his wife. I hope a few people might still read the book I wrote and love Writing and the Spiritual Life, that my grandmother’s recipe for lasagna, the one I learned to make from my mother, might be made and served at a next generation of tables. I hope, I think most of all, that my love of poetry gets carried along in others, and when someone recites Roethke’s “Dirty Dinky,” little children crack up like crazy at “What’s the weather in a beard? It’s windy there, and rather weird,” and settle down for Stevenson’s “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue?”

In a comment on Sunday’s blog post, my friend Nancy wrote this: “Indeed, there is no end to the depth of suffering, or terror.... Likewise the joy and bliss go on forever. Holding the hand of the Beloved really helps....”

“Take my hand. There are two of us in this cave.” Lisel Mueller, from The Blind Leading the Blind


  1. Will you share your grandmother's lasagna recipe? Then I'll do my best to share my love of poetry that you helped me to embrace so fully. Okay, okay, I'll do my best anyway and....

  2. "Unless you treat failure as part of the journey, you're never going to get anywhere."
    --Tom Selleck--

    "Risk is the price you pay for opportunity."
    --Tom Selleck's dad, Robert--

    We wrapped our arms around each real tight for endless seconds, and then I headed out into the long drive.